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NEWS | Feb. 2, 2011

Georgia Air Guard NCO manages life support efforts at Afghanistan base

By Master Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. - For aircrew members flying the C-130 Hercules with the 744th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, there are people behind the scenes who ensure they and their life support equipment are ready for the next mission. Among those people are Airmen like Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Sloan.

Sloan is a life support technician with the 774th EAS. He is deployed from the Georgia Air National Guard's 165th Airlift Wing at Savannah. His hometown is also Savannah, Ga.

As a life support technician, Sloan is trained to "manage, perform and schedule inspections, maintenance and adjustments of assigned aircrew flight equipment, aircrew chemical defense equipment, associated supplies and inventories assets," according to his official Air Force job description for the 1T0X1 career field.

He inspects, maintains, packs and adjusts aircrew flight equipment such as flight helmets, oxygen masks, parachutes, flotation devices, survival kits and helmet mounted devices, the job description states. He also cares for aircrew night vision and other ocular systems, anti-G garments, aircrew eye and respiratory protective equipment, chemical biological protective oxygen masks and coveralls and other types of aircrew flight equipment and aircrew chemical defense systems.

Airmen like Sloan are also trained to repair fabric and rubber components, including protective clothing, thermal radiation barriers, flotation equipment and various parachutes. They evaluate problems and determine feasibility of repair or replacement related to inspecting and repairing fabric, rubber equipment and parachutes.

Life support technicians also install and remove aircraft-installed aircrew life support equipment, the job description states. They use various types of test equipment such as altimeters, oxygen testers, leakage testers, radio testers and other types of testers to conduct reliability testing on the equipment they care for. They also maintain inspection and accountability documentation on aircrew flight equipment issued to aircrews or prepositioned on aircraft.

The 774th EAS, which is part of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagram, supports Operation Enduring Freedom and combat airlift and airdrop operations in Afghanistan and for the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

At his home station with the 165th AW at Savannah International Airport, Sloan supports a unit that operates with more than 1,400 personnel and eight C-130 H2 aircraft.

Additionally, Sloan is like many Guardsmen supporting the Air National Guard's federal mission. According to the National Guard Bureau, that mission is to maintain well-trained, well-equipped units available for prompt mobilization during war and provide assistance during national emergencies such as natural disasters or civil disturbances.

During peacetime, the combat-ready units and support units are assigned to most Air Force major commands to carry out missions compatible with training, mobilization readiness, humanitarian and contingency operations such as for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The Air National Guard provides almost half of the Air Force's tactical airlift support, combat communications functions, aeromedical evacuations and aerial refueling. In addition, the Air National Guard has total responsibility for air defense of the entire United States.